…As ES defies minister’s directive to salaries of affected 15 staff
A fresh crisis is brewing at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), over the appointment of 15 management and other top level staff from outside the agency by the Executive Secretary, Professor Usman Yusuf without recourse to laid down rules and procedures of the scheme.
Professor Yusuf, has not only rebuffed ministerial directive for a reversal of the alleged illegal recruitment of the staff that did not follow due process but has reportedly drawn a battle line with the Senior staff Union that are vehemently opposed to what they described as skewed recruitment that is not known to the scheme.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adeoye, who the supervising minister of the Agency, had based on petitions from staff members and Union directed the NHIS Executive Secretary to as a matter of urgent importance delete the names of the 15 illegally recruited staffers from the payroll of the Scheme.
Sources reveled that the illegal recruitment were not only lopsided in favour of a particular geo-political zone but the spending by Prof Yusuf that were far above his approval limit in addition to other activities taking place at the Scheme that are perceived to be unfavorable to the operation of the Scheme.
In a petition by the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), addressed to the Minister of Health, the staff union called on the minister to ensure the agreement arrived at over the 15 illegally recruited staffers by Prof Yusuf are promptly implemented to avoid breakdown of law and order and or industrial action by the union.
The letter dated May 4, 2017, with the headline, ‘Demand for the Implementation of the Report In Respect of the vexed Issue Of Illegal Secondment Of Officers In The NHIS: Urgent Need To Call The Executive Secretary To Order,’ the Union noted that Prof. Yusuf has turned himself into “an emperor” and running the Scheme as a personal company.
Parts of the petition read; “For the avoidance of doubt, the Executive Secretary NHIS only informed the seconded officers to step aside while he kept assuring them that he is doing some work in the Presidency, Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, including the Office of the Head of the Service of the Federation towards their eventual return to the NHIS.
“On the strength of that promise, he has refused to delete their names from the payroll. Thus, the affected secondees were illegally paid April salary by the Executive Secretary against the due process,” said the senior civil servants in the letter.
“For the record, the affected officers who were illegally seconded to NHIS were documented at the point of resumption. The Executive Secretary, NHIS has vowed not to document their exit, notwithstanding the ministerial directive and the collective agreement approving the cancelation of the illegal secondments.
“Since he has conquered the NHIS and made it his personal estate where decisions of the Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are treated with contempt and the organised Labour are to be seen and never to be heard, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, after a meeting of its members in Abuja on Thursday May 4, 2017 wishes to demand as follows:
“1. That the Hon Minister, Federal Ministry of Health should enforce the report/agreement on the NHIS without further delay.
“ii. Evaluate the activities of the seconded officers during their stopover in the NHIS,” the letter added.
NHIS had recruited no fewer than 15 staff out of which 11 are from his North-west geo-political zone, with one from Taraba State in North-east and three from North-central zone, including a driver was yet another issue,” the Union stated.
It was also gathered that apart from the threat to declare industrial dispute on the matter, the NHIS staff Union are asking why Prof Yusuf as Executive Secretary should defy a ministerial directive and an agreement with a labour union on the matter.
Yusuf is believed to have boosted severally before members of the management staff of the NHIS that he is not answerable to the minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole but only to the President that gave him a mandate.
Further checks revealed that while the official designation of a Grade Level 15 officer in the NHIS is General Manager (GM), Prof Yusuf cleverly categorized and designated them as ‘Head’ but collecting same salaries and allowances.
Similarly, one of the strange appointments is that of a female staff with a birth date of October 24, 1984 from Kano State with Personal File number NHIS/2038 that was hurled to the position of Assistant General Manager (AGM), an equivalent to Assistant Director in the civil service in very curious circumstance.
Checks revealed that the lady who is less than 33-year, has spent less than 10 years in service before she got to the position while more experienced staff that graduated and started working while she was in primary school are just getting to the directorate level.